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"The continent is hostile, " says Samuel ( José Sacristán ) shortly after Formentera Lady began. Samuel is a musician, he plays the banjo, "it could have been our Bob Dylan, " they say, but he arrived in Formentera in the 70s and could never leave.
The mainland makes you dizzy, you don't think about living in a place where you can't go all year with your espadrilles or your straw hat. Even when his wife and daughter left him, he got trapped there. And the island went from paradise, from refuge to jail without him noticing. Samuel is a small island within an already small island, it is the memory of something that was and is no longer. Nostalgia for a Formentera that fades (especially in the summer agglomerates).
How not to get hooked on this? © Vértice Cine
The actor Pau Durà came up with the idea of Formentera Lady, his first opera, while he was vacationing in Formentera in the summer of 2009. “I start thinking about the script because I'm about to be a father and I was there on the island on vacation, with my wife, and I think about the conflict between the most absolute freedom, represented in that hatching of hippies that arrived on the island in the 70s, and the biggest responsibility that you can fall for, and you look for: bring someone to the world and take care of him, ”he explains.
“I began to think of him, of Samuel, of that hippie making a second chance trip, which he did not become a father in his day due to this conflict for his freedom and which he has to play as a grandfather much later. It is the inner journey, the journey towards nostalgia and the shadows of those lost paradises. ”
Sacristan looking at the "hostile continent." © Vértice Cine
Looking for those shadows and lights of Formentera, the fig trees and lizards that King Crimson sang in the song that gives name to the film (and that in a nod to the time they say that the character of Sacristan helped compose), they shot in winter, in March 2017. “I went for the first time in the year 2000 and I returned quite a lot until 2009 or so, but for me it was the great discovery of the island in winter when I went to locate and shoot there, ” says Pau Durà.
“It's a wonder, it's another island, surely more similar to that paradise of the 70's. Half of things are closed, walking around the whole Migjorn beach and not finding anyone is very cool. The waters are still turquoise. ”
In that islander winter, they turned one of Migjorn's houses into Samuel's house. Small, white walls. There he lives without light, without running water, sleeps many times outdoors, looking at the stars and listening to the sea.
“There are still characters like him in Formentera, I suppose they do have water and electricity, but those of their generation who stayed there and also younger, can be seen in the Pilar de La Mola in the markets (Wednesdays and Sundays), there are musicians and artists, they are people who inhabit the island all year looking and looking for, ”explains Durà.
Grandfather, daughter and grandson. Three generations, an island. © Vértice Cine
People who may be in Formentera, as Samuel believed. He was trapped, first in La Mola, near the lighthouse, “that little island inside the island, the massif in which many hippies were installed, ” Durà says, and then in that beach hut from which only to fish in the sea with his friend, eat in one of the mythical places that still hold, Fonda Pepe or play in a bar at night before countrymen and some clueless guiri.
Formentera Lady Sweet Lover.
Although the bar is a stage, it serves as a metaphor for the gentrification that Formentera lives and from which it escapes, for now, Fonda Pepe that is real.
“Fonda Pepe is culturally important, it is one of the spaces that have been preserved since then, ” says Durà. “The first tourism was going there. They say that Bob Dylan was going there and that for years he was reserved for a chair and a table. I talked to people and they say it's a myth, that maybe there was a guy who looked like him. But it could be … because other singers James Taylor, King Crimson passed by the island , obviously having the album and the song Formentera Lady, Pink Floyd also filmed nearby … Pau Riba, which inspired me a little, because he went to live a year there, he recorded an album, in 1972 the year I was born … all this I had in my head when writing the movie. And then everything they created was truncated … We also told it, the dream vanished. ” As happens to Samuel, as, in some way, it has happened to Formentera.
* 'Formentera Lady' premieres on June 29.